I have had several experiences lately that have really brought home to me how different my life is now. Somehow – and I think I’ve said this before – it’s not the big stuff like the fact that I can’t just spontaneously go out after work, or always have a high chair in my kitchen. It’s the smaller things. The things I didn’t anticipate before. A few examples of changes:
Dinner theater — before, this meant you’d do something fun and kind of cheesy, like going to Tony N Tina’s Wedding or something. You would have dinner at the theater. Now, however, it means that I have to sing the same songs over and over again while Darwin eats, so that I keep him distracted enough to keep eating things that he wasn’t excited about. He really likes marches and fight songs, so I sing a lot of “Bear Down, Chicago Bears.” There also have to be big hand gestures and funny faces. All this in our kitchen, with a window that faces our neighbor’s kitchen, where they can see everything that goes on. I’m sure they think I’m crazy. Especially when I get really desperate, and start doing high kicks and putting my leg up on the counter and reaching under it to grab Darwin, contorting myself, pulling muscles and generally looking like an idiot. All so that he’ll eat more spinach.
Dialing for dollars — it used to be that a radio station would give away 2 tickets to the Journey concert if you were the 7th caller. So, you’d get on the phone, call, get a busy signal, then hang up and push redial for half an hour or so it seemed like. This week, I have found myself doing the same thing, only now it’s in order to get my child a flu vaccine. Our pediatrician only gets a limited supply, because they get it without preservatives, or something, and kids under 2 can’t get the mist kind, so they have to get a shot, which apparently appears in the same amounts as water on Mars. So, I got an email one night that they got some in, and the next morning I left a staff meeting early so I could call right when the office opened, and sat on the phone like I was trying to win those Journey tickets. Call, busy signal, hang up, redial. Finally got through and got an appointment — at 11:20, which means that I’ll take Darwin in, get him a flu shot, then have to drop him off at daycare right in the middle of naptime where he’ll scream and cry and wake everyone up because he’ll be expecting to stay home by then. If he’s not at daycare by 8, then he just assumes he’s staying home. But it was just such an accomplishment to get an appointment, I felt like I couldn’t complain that it wasn’t convenient. When you finally get the golden ticket, you can’t tell Willy Wonka that you have a math test that day so you can’t come.
Vacations — Ha. Vacations. Vacation used to mean traveling to China or India, and looking disdainfully at those people who chose to spend their time sitting on a beach doing nothing. Now, what I wouldn’t give to sit on a beach and do nothing! Some friends of ours are planning a trip to Cancun with their kids, and have invited a bunch of us to go with our kids, too. Sounds great, right? Family vacation that involves pina coladas and a pool and massages! And, in the past, we would have just made the decision to go, if we could afford it. But now — now there’s all sorts of other factors to take into account. Sure, we could afford it, but what if we dropped the money on this vacation and it turned out to be NOT relaxing? That Darwin ran around the resort drooling on high powered businessmen and their trophy wives, and instead of drinking pina coladas, we just chased him around for 5 days, much like we do at home, only with the danger of heatstroke? And, sure, I have the vacation days, but can I really use them when Darwin was so sick last winter and I had to take so much time off? Shouldn’t I save my vacation days for afternoons of ear infections and swine flu? These are things I never would have worried about in the past — my biggest worry about this type of vacation would have been that I wouldn’t get any “culture,” or be able to “explore.” Now, my biggest worry is that my kid will get eaten if we visit the onsite alligator farm.
Somehow, life doesn’t seem that different when I’m in the middle of it, but as soon as I can take a step back, catch my breath, and think about things, I realize how different things are. While some friends are going out 12 nights in a row, if I go out one out of 12 nights, I feel pretty social. The times, they really are changing. And if you have any suggestions for songs in 2/2 time that lend themselves to looking ridiculous, please let me know.